Product developers and innovators have different goals. Some people invent simply for the creative enjoyment. But most designers would like to be able to make some money from all their hard work. Usually, the goal of product design and development is either to launch a new business to sell the new invention, or otherwise to license that product to major retailers and let them handle the nitty gritty.
For inventors and designers that want to go the entrepreneurial route, having a functional, attractive, and well-designed website is one of the key strategies to building up a market presence and growing the business. A proper website increases brand recognition and helps to generate consumer and investor interest while providing a convenient platform for entrepreneurs to market their product directly to consumers. It’s a great way to generate sales early on, and to get the product off the ground.
In short, having a good website is crucial. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. But a poorly designed website can do more harm than good. So let’s take a look at a few simple things entrepreneurs can do to make sure their website is as good as it can be.
1. Keep It Simple
We’ve mentioned that, in product design, it’s better to focus on function over features. This is just as true for website design as for anything else. If you remember seeing Geocities web pages back in the early 2000s, you have an idea of what a bad website looks like. With the power of current website design tools, it can be quite easy to add tons of features and gizmos to your site that you don’t need. Avoid the temptation!
Users want a simple and straightforward experience. You want to maintain the features that are necessary and useful. Avoid cluttering your pages with gadgets, gizmos, and widgets that don’t directly contribute to the goal of your website. You can always expand your site later if the need arises. Focus on making it work, and don’t worry about the bells and whistles.
2. Don’t Be a Jerk
For some reason, it’s gotten into the heads of certain web designers that they can manipulate or trick their visitors into buying their services by screwing around with their ability to browse away from the site. This is always a bad idea, don’t do it. It’s not a difficult thing to design a website that disables the “back” button, or that throws a pop-up window out that doesn’t close easily when people try to leave the site. All these tricks do is alienate your viewers even further and ensure that they will never be visiting your site again. If your site is well-designed, you won’t need to trick people into viewing your content. If your site isn’t worth seeing, trying to prevent people from leaving won’t translate into sales anyways.
3. Avoid Cookie-Cutter Design
The layout and design of your site will have a huge impact on how it is perceived by your audience. Having a well laid-out and appealing looking site will communicate that you’ve got your stuff together and are a reliable business. It is definitely worthwhile working with a professional web designer. You can do a lot with website building sites that provide layouts, but your options will be limited and it will be more difficult to create a site that looks distinct, professional, and memorable.
The aesthetics of your website should reflect the branding of your product. Think about your color palette and the overall style of your site. It should all be a reflection of the product you are trying to sell.
4. Make it Easy for Users to Contact You
On every page of your site, there should be clearly identifiable and easy-to-find contact information that would allow viewers to get in touch with you or your company. Include email and phone numbers as well as a mailing address. Not only is this useful for the obvious reason that someone might want to contact you about something, but it adds a certain degree of credibility to your site. The last thing you want is for potential customers to get the idea that your some kind of shady fly-by-night operation. Transparency is comforting, and making it easy for viewers to talk to a real person demonstrates that you’re a legitimate business.
5. Find a Reliable Host
It may seem like it should go without saying, but it’s important to have reliable web hosting when you are relying on your site to connect with your customers and grow your business. While you don’t want to blow your entire budget on the hosting, you want to make sure that your provider has a reputation for speedy and reliable service. The differences between different hosts are pretty insignificant when things are going right, but when things go wrong, you want to be with a company that will do everything they can to get you back up and running as soon as possible.
You also want to make sure that you have reasonable load times on your site. This has a big impact on how search engines will rank you, and it also really affects the user experience. Most surfers won’t wait longer than a few seconds for your page to load before they give up and go somewhere else. Which, by the way, is another reason to keep things as simple as possible while maintaining the optimal user experience.
6. Navigation is Key
It’s very important when working on the structure and layout of your site to make sure that everything is easily navigatable by your viewers. You have to remember that the attention span and patience of web surfers are pretty much non-existent. People will quickly lose interest if it’s difficult to find pages on the site or to navigate to different sections.
You always want to present users with a quick and easy way to get from one part of your site to another. Drop down menus along the top or side of your page are a common and efficient way to accomplish this. You want to make sure that any page on your site will link back out to the main page or to the main section landing pages.
Users shouldn’t have to fumble around with their “back” button or the page URLs to find content they read earlier. Also keep in mind that, if you’re lucky, people will want to share links to your site with their friends. If the link they provide doesn’t easily navigate to other parts of your site, you’ll lose out on potential customers. Avoid orphaned pages, and always make sure your brand logo is visible somewhere on each page.
Having a link to a site map in the header or footer of your pages is a good way to keep your site easy to explore.
7. Link to Social Media
People really love social media. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest can be very cost-effective marketing tools. Directing traffic from your website to your social media profiles can increase your social media presence, which in turn brings more traffic to your site. You can facilitate this by making it easy for your viewers to connect to your social media profiles. It’s relatively simple, can be totally free, and it helps to increase your online presence.
Following these seven tips will help you keep your web design on track. For CAD design and consumer product design, you’ve got Cad Crowd! We offer a full range of product design, drafting, and contract manufacturing services for entrepreneurs and inventors. Get a free quote today.